- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: World Cup fever hits South African prisoners
- Date: 1st June 2010
- Summary: OFFENDERS CHOIR SINGING
- Embargoed: 16th June 2010 13:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVABQQST7CO7U9E8N1ZCNXCV8D2J
- Story Text: South African prisoners will now have a chance to join the rest of the world and enjoy the beautiful game of football during the World Cup.
On Monday (May 31), television screens were handed over to prison authorities at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg to allow the facility's 5,000 prisoners to watch the tournament which the country is hosting from June 11 to July 11.
"If you believe because you offended the first time doesn't mean that you are, your are completely consigned to being a bad role model and of course we understand many other communities that might not be able to have a ability to get a TV or ability to watch the World Cup but we are starting from somewhere," said Magnus Mchunguzi, director of Ericsson South Africa, the company that donated the five media projector screens, five theatre systems and five plasma screens.
Leeuwkop Correctional Centre has four sections including a maximum security facility for murder, armed robbery and rape convicts.
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Hlengiwe Mkhize said sports offers offenders a second chance.
"Sports helps to teach people to observe the rules of the game and in life of course there are rules and boundaries and norms so we are trying to say to them you use what you learn in sports to transfer that to your real life on a daily basis where you are not supposed to cross the road, you don't cross the road where you are supposed to count twice, you count twice so its really about instilling the values and norms that each and every child growing up in society has got to acquire," said Mkhize Calvin Mekgwe is one of the offenders serving their sentences at the juvenile centre.
The 21-year-old inmate has already served two of his three year armed robbery sentence. He claims to be a changed man and now captains the juvenile soccer team and like most South Africans, he is excited about his country hosting the World Cup.
"It gives me a privilege and honour because I can also feel it whilst being in prison," said Mekgwe.
Meanwhile 21 year-old Tebogo Moloi from Soweto still has eight more years to serve of his 10-year sentence.
Like many young poor black youth who grow up poor, crime is a way of escaping poverty.
Moloi joined a gang after being lured by a life of money, cars and women. He got arrested during after a botched robbery. He claims to be a changed man and joined the Leeuwkop juvenile soccer team where he is a star. Even though he is behind bars, he is just as optimistic about the tournament
"I think it is obvious that South Africa will win the World Cup. The team has done well in the friendly matches they have played so far and I think Parreira (SA coach Carols Albert Parreira) is doing a good job," said Mollie.
The Department of Correctional Services has plans of getting all its centres to participate in the World Cup by having mini soccer tournaments where prisons will adopt one of the 32 countries taking part in World Cup.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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